I wrote this post during the time when it actually happened and now it comes to the exact time in my story where it is relevant. It is the time of watching a family mourn the loss of a loved one and I thought it perfect to put it in it’s rightful place in my story…..
As most of you know over the holiday weekend I had a death in the family. It wasn’t a relative of mine, but a relative of someone very close to me. The man that passed away I’ve never met. I had heard of him, but had no real understanding the impact this person had on those that loved him. Over the last few days I have learned a lot about this man. Not just from the stories and memories that were shared with me, but through the actions and the lives lead by those he left behind.
This man was a loving, dedicated husband to one woman for over sixty years. He leaves behind three adoring sons with remarkable wives, grandchildren, great grandchildren, cousins, nieces and an assortment of friends that loved him. This man adored his family, this I know for a fact. How you ask? Because this man left a legacy of love. Stories of a life rich in family and friends. This man was a gentleman of a time passed. Where chivalry was not dead, but lived in every day life. It was expressed by doors being held, hands being held and hearts that were handled with care. I learned of how this man’s smile would light up a room and make people feel better just by seeing it. I heard about how this man worked hard, but his true love, his real passion was his family.
The priest told a story at the farewell mass about a woman who was having coffee with her pastor, telling him of what her final arrangements would be. She came to the end of her list when she let the pastor know that her last request was somewhat unusual. She wanted to be buried with a fork. The pastor looked at her strangely asking “A fork?” She continued; “yes a fork. My whole life I spent going to church functions and dinners and there was always a nice waiter or waitress clearing the table and every so often they would say “Save your fork.” When they said that I knew that something good was about to come my way. Not the usual Jello or pudding, but the good stuff. Something you would need your fork for like chocolate cake. I knew then, that the best yet to come. So I want to be buried with my fork, so that I know that although I may have left this earth, that the best is yet to come.”
That story got me all choked up. What an amazing thought. Whatever position you find yourself in today, whatever hardship you may be going through; be it financial, job issues or loss of a loved one, what a remarkable thought; the best is yet to come. I began to think what my legacy would be. Would I leave behind a family, rich in tradition, rich in love and rich in having each other as this man did? Would my values live on in my children and their husbands and my grandchildren? As I watched this family interact with each other, with me, with friends and neighbors that came to pay their respects, I prayed this man knew that this family had heard him. They had emulated all that was important to him and took his example of what true love meant. They, even in their time of grief and sorrow opened themselves up to all those willing to give their time to stop in and pay their respects. They welcomed each and every person with open arms, with genuine kindness and appreciation, they did it for each other, they did it for friends and neighbors and they did it for me.
It was like a wave came over me when I realized how one person’s life can touch so many. I did not know this man and yet he had touched mine. By letting me be a part of this amazing family, by letting me experience the love and kindness that he worked so hard to instill in his family. A life is not measured in how big our house is, how much money we make or how many cars we own. Our lives are measured in the amount of love we give; it is measured in having those we love be able to share that love with others. It is measured in the small moments where we look around and see the fruits of our labor live on even when we no longer can.
This man was laid to rest today, but his life lives on in every person that his life touched. His life lives on in those that loved and cared about him and it is safe to say that his life now lives on in me. You do not know this man, but we can all be touched by the lesson he gave to this world. He can live on in all of us just by us cherishing what is truly important, honoring those that mean the most to you and sharing your love honestly and with vigor. For him, for me, for all of us…….take the fork…..because the best is yet to come.